He won’t be remembered as an Athletic, but newly anointed Hall of Famer Frank Thomas will always hold an important spot in Oakland A’s history. One of the greatest right-handed hitters of all-time, Thomas was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. It was his first year of eligibility. He will join Atlanta Braves greats Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine as the three players elected into the 2014 Hall of Fame class.
Thomas spend the vast majority of his 19-year career with the Chicago White Sox. He won back-to-back MVPs with the Sox in 1993 and 1994 and was part of the White Sox’s 2005 World Series championship team, although he was injured for much of that season. In 16 years with the White Sox, Thomas hit .307/.427/.568 with 448 homeruns and a 160 OPS+.
A foot injury limited Thomas to less than 75 games in each of the 2004 and 2005 seasons. After the 2005 campaign, Thomas and the White Sox parted ways, and it appeared that Thomas’ career might be coming to an end. He staved off retirement by signing a one-year deal with the A’s, but most considered Thomas’ best years to be behind him.
Instead of fading into the sunset with the green-and-gold, Thomas put together a huge season. Thomas led the A’s on an improbable run to the ALCS, putting together a 926 OPS during the regular season. He hit 39 homeruns, drove-in 114 runs and finished fourth in the MVP voting. Then during the post-season, Thomas connected on two homeruns in Game One of the ALDS. That win helped catapult the A’s into the ALCS for the first time since the 1992 season.
After that season, Thomas signed a two-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. He had a good first season with the Blue Jays, but he had a rough first month of the 2008 campaign with the Blue Jays and they released him. The A’s brought him back for the remainder of what turned out to be the final season of his career. He would play 55 games with the A’s in 2008. He finished his tenure with Oakland with an 876 OPS in 192 games. His OPS+ was 130.
Other former A’s on the ballot were all-time franchise homerun leader Mark McGwire, 2007 DH Mike Piazza and 2002 DH Ray Durham. Durham received no votes and will be dropped from the ballot. Piazza, the greatest hitting catcher of all-time, missed out on the Hall of Fame for a second straight year. He finished fifth on the ballot, receiving 62.2% of the vote (75% is needed for induction). McGwire, in his eighth year on the ballot, received 11% of the vote. Both Piazza and McGwire will be eligible again next season. Both have been hurt by their association with the ‘steroid era.’ McGwire has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, while Piazza has denied using.
A’s Avoid Arbitration With Chavez
The A’s have avoided arbitration with right-hander Jesse Chavez, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract for 2014. This was Chavez’s first season of arbitration-eligibility. According to CSN’s Joe Stiglich, the contract is worth $775,000.
Chavez made five starts with Triple-A Sacramento in 2013 – posting a 2.70 ERA – but he spent the majority of the season as the A’s long reliever. He had a 3.92 ERA and a 55:20 K:BB in 57.1 major league innings. Chavez saved one game. The A’s claimed Chavez off of the Toronto Blue Jays’ waivers towards the end of the 2012 season.
A’s Invite 12 To Big League Camp
The A’s have extended big league spring training invitations to 12 non-roster players thus far. They could add more invitations before the start of spring training in February.
Oakland has seven pitchers, one catcher, three infielders and one outfielder on their current non-roster list. On the pitcher list, the A’s have invited Matt Buschmann, Jose Flores, Deryk Hooker, Philip Humber, Jeremy McBryde, Fernando Nieve and Andrew Werner. All but Werner were signed as minor league free agents this off-season. Werner was on the A’s 40-man roster for much of the off-season, but he was designated for assignment in December and cleared waivers. Werner is also the only left-hander on the NRI pitcher list.
Luke Montz, who spent most of last season with Sacramento and some time with the A’s, has been invited to a big league camp for a second straight year. Montz was a minor league free agent this off-season, but he elected to re-sign with the A’s. Similarly, infielder Darwin Perez will be invited to big league camp as a non-roster invitee for a second straight year. Perez joined the A’s as a minor league free agent last season, spent the year with Double-A Midland and then re-signed with Oakland to another minor league deal for this season.
The other infielders on the NRI list are minor league free agent signee Jose Martinez and A’s top prospect Addison Russell. Russell will be attending his second straight big league camp. He was the A’s number one pick in 2012. Russell spent the 2013 season mostly at the High-A level, although he had a cameo at the Triple-A level at the end of last year.
Outfielder Billy Burns, who was acquired by the A’s for left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins this off-season, has received his first invitation to big league camp. Burns was one of only three players in the minor league last season to steal more than 50 bases and post an OBP better than .400. He stole 74 bases for the Nationals’ High-A and Double-A teams and was the Nationals’ Minor League Player of the Year.